Disney Dads: They Come In All Shapes and Sizes!
As we celebrate Father’s Day today, this is a great time to remember that dads come in all shapes and sizes. As we’ve seen time and time again in the Disney universe, the path to great daddy-dom can occasionally take a roundabout route. Other times, these dads may not even be in the actual story, but still show that they have much to teach us. No matter the circumstance, Disney has shown us time and time again how even non-conventional dads can still play a major role in defining who we are…and to remind us what is truly important. So let’s explore just a few of those sometimes-misunderstood, sometimes-complicated, but alway amazing father figures!
The Over-Protective Father
‘But daddy, I love him!’ is a phrase that has been iterated, laughed about, and yes, even memed time and time again over the last couple of decades. This of course is in reference to Ariel begging her father, King Triton to allow her to visit the shore to look upon her one true love, the fish-eating human, Prince Eric. Not surprisingly, Triton destroys the statue of Eric he has witnessed his 16 year old daughter fawning over, and forbids her to ever step fin on land, or even the surface. In a heartbreaking scene, we see a distraught Ariel sobbing whilst stroking the chunk of Eric’s face that was zapped off by the overprotective king of the ocean. As we all know (or at least, I hope we do at this point!) Ariel becomes a human and marries the prince. While this moment is joy filled, we can’t help but feel the heart strings tug as the new princess waves to her father, who has finally given her and her prince his blessing.
The Inspirational Father
While he may not have had a starring role in The Princess and the Frog, Tiana’s father James was the inspiration behind Tiana’s Place, the restaurant she had dreamt of owning and operating since she was a small child. The way this film depicts the love and dedication of a hardworking father, who never let his family know how exhausted he was after a grueling day at work, is the stuff of Disney tear jerking magic. Cooking was what Tiana and James shared; it was their daddy-daughter magic, if you will. Tiana took that hardworking, ambitious spirit with her into adulthood and honored her father’s memory, overcoming obstacles and never giving up until she achieved both her dream and what her father had always hoped for her: owning her very own restaurant with her name proudly displayed in the culturally rich city of New Orleans!
The Single Father
It’s hard to make it past the beginning of Finding Nemo without balling your eyes out. The story of a widower who has lost all of his children, save one, and focuses all of his attention on his remaining egg doesn’t exactly sound like a Disney fairy tale, but everything about this father son tail (ha!) is just so Pixar. From his fear of Nemo venturing out on his own to start school, to obsessively warning Nemo against swimming too far out (to the point of telling Nemo he simply can’t do what other fish can do because of his tiny fin), Marlin is far from perfect, but he is indisputably a dedicated father. There were many obstacles along the way, and throughout the film we weren’t sure if the daddy-son clown fishes would ever be reunited. But with a little help from forgetful, lovable Dory, and a lot of love and newfound understanding from papa, Marlin fights for and eventually is reunited with his whole reason for living – his baby boy Nemo!
The Redeemed (Sort of) Daddy
‘Luke, I am your father’ is a phrase that has been uttered throughout the years (and yes, that’s actually a common mis-quote of the famous line, but we know what you mean!) and one that had me and my sisters in stitches as we chased one another around the house, talking through empty wrapping paper rolls and walkie talkies. As much as it is rendered a joke to an extent, it’s a commonplace phrase among Star Wars fans and non-fans alike for a reason; the moment when Luke finds out that Darth Vader is his father is pretty powerful. There had always been some sort of connection, something drawing Skywalker to Vader, but until that moment, he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. While daddy Vader was profoundly flawed (that whole dark side thing…), in the end he just couldn’t let his son die. As he tossed his master down a reactor shaft, he ultimately came to terms with the good that was still within him…the good that Luke knew was still there. Thus Ani is redeemed through one final selfless act.
The Mother and Father
Plot twist! I couldn’t complete this list without mentioning the Moms that selflessly take on the role of both mother and father in Disney films. While Andy’s mom, whose name is actually Jennifer Davis, isn’t technically a dad, we do know that she is a pretty rocking single mom who cares for her two children enough for both parents. She may not seem like a pivotal part of the films, but every move, every new toy introduction, and even the finding of some misplaced toys, is the work of the supermom behind the scenes. While Andy’s dad may not be around anymore, we know that mama Jen has all the love, discipline, nurture, and mama-and-papa-bear-energy her kiddos require.